Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

It’s not dead, It’s RESTing

Not withstanding the dead parrot sketch, here is a great example of the technology is “dead” type article I wrote about here , if you are a programmer, agree/disagree?

Claiming anything is dead often gives the claimer the right not to understand the thing that is supposedly “dead” but to just give reasons why that must be so and move on to give advice on what you should do instead.

 

Gaining a better city view

10584048_10152680088100530_6382819846875428430_nMckinney Texas is a great city, it contains all the best things about Texas towns and architecture.

Now I’m delighted to say they’ve adopted an become a reference for a number of our products. You can read the full solutions brief here.

The city deployed Foglight Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Toad Data Modeler from Dell Software to increase application visibility, speed troubleshooting and improve integration giving

  • Better visibility into the city’s critical
    web and legacy applications
  • More-modern applications and services for employees and residents
  • Faster diagnosis and problem resolution
  • Proactive troubleshooting
  • Stronger integration of disparate applications
  • Ability to get more out of existing infrastructure

Yes, the picture is of McKinney Falls State Park, it’s not a city property.

Dell PowerEdge 13g Servers with NFC

Although I have not worked in the server group at Dell for almost 3-years, I was delighted to see in among the innovations announced at yesterdays PowerEdge 13g launch, the Near Field Communications (NFC) concept and prototype I proposed just over 2-years ago.

The enhanced at-the-server management, and from anywhere: Dell introduces iDRAC Quick Sync, using Near Field Communication (NFC), an industry first. And is one example of many that belies the notion, commonly held, that Dell doesn’t innovate.

For customers managing at-the-box, this new capability transmits server health information and basic server setup via a hand-held smart device running OpenManage Mobile, simply by tapping it at the server. OpenManage Mobile also enables administrators to monitor and manage their environments anytime, anywhere with their mobile device.


Growing software influence and Dell

A few things have happened in the last couple of months that show the growing influence and maturity of the software team at Dell, and it’s been on my backlog to write up as a blog post.

DMTF VP of Regional Chapters

Yinghua Qin, the Senior Software Manager in our Zuhai China laboratory has been accepted as the new VP of Regional Chapters at the DMTF. This is an outstanding opportunity for Yinghua, who leads the Foglight and a number of software engineering projects, as well as serves as the local liaison to Sun Yat-sen University(SYSU) school mobile engineering (SMIE). Yinghua reports to the Foglight lead architect Geoff Vona.

Dell actually has at various stages in the past been very proactive with the DMTF. Current board chair, Winston Bumpus, was formally a Dell employee; My ESG colleague Jon Haas has been a major contributor to a number of standards. I for one am looking forward to the increased cooperation that working in international standards can bring.

Open Source Project

The Dell Cloud Manager product development team have open sourced their blockade test tool. Blockade is a utility for testing network failures and partitions in distributed applications. Blockade uses Docker containers to run application processes and manages the network from the host system to create various failure scenarios.

It’s a small step, but congratulations to Tim Freeman and the team for navigating through the process to produce the first new open source development project from the Dell Software Group team.

Angular giveback

A number of our development teams are using Angular.js. Once again after an original approach in November by Sara Cowles from the Dell Cloud Manager team stepped forward and asked the right questions, after checking with other teams, I was happy to sign the Google CLA to fax back to google.

Yocto – Embedded Linux and Beyond

Congratulations also go to Mikey Brown from Dells’ Enterprise Systems Group(ESG). Mikey has picked up the mantle of a project I was a big supporter of, when I was in ESG, Yocto. After doing a great job getting a couple of our embedded Linux offering back on track using Yocto, and the build infrastructure around. Mickey has re-connected with the Yocto team.

Each of these on their own are small steps, but these plus a number of other things going on give me a good feeling things are heading in the right direction. I’ll get to go have another facsinating time hearing from students about how things look from their side of the technology field when I head over to Texas A&M University(Insert “GO AGGIES” here!) to address class 481 on 2/25.

TechWeekEurope UKSoftware Will Make A Quarter Of Dell’s Profits – Swainson

Great software overview of what’s going on here at Dell.

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/interview/dell-software-swainson-119426

Quest Software Update

Friday Dell announced that we’d closed on the acquisition of Quest Software. The last 50-days or so has been a blur for me,  as I wrote back in July I’ve moved to the new Dell Software group, and was asked to lead the technical integration and R&D integration of Quest Software. We’ve been busy visiting as many of their R&D centers as we can, and this will continue through the end of October.

I’d describe it as a roller coaster, the ups have been meeting the great teams in Linden UT, Toronto, Ottowa, Halifax Canada, St Petersburg and Moscow in Russia, and spending time both networking with Quest Executives and team members at VMWorld, as well as some of the other teams like AppAssure and SonicWall that are part of the new Dell Software group.

The downs in my roller coaster have been the travel, I really don’t enjoy the day-in, day-out, overnight travel. Especially as things always seem to be more difficult than they should be. For instance, applying for a work visa for China apparently requires submitting both my passport and green card, which means if stopped by the police, or immigration officials anywhere, I can not prove I’m legally in the USA. This happened to me once already on an checkpoint on I10 near Corpus Christi and I hadn’t even left Texas, not a pleasant experience. Then there was the guy sat opposite me on the train from Moscow to St Petersburg, rather than ending up with a Contagion like pandemic infection, I just got a bad cold.

However it’s been tempered by my travel colleagues, Elaine from Quest and Craig from Dell who are the actual R&D project managers for the acquisition.  We’ve been joking about making Rock and Roll style tour t-shirts, a simple Dell Software logo on the front, on the back it would have QUEST: The final tour and a list of the dates and locations. I still may do it, especially as we have Buffallo Grove, Madison WI, Berlin, Dresden, Israel, Horton and Poole in the UK, Honk Kong and China all before the end of October.

The best thing has been meeting all the great software experts, seeing some of the great products, to mention just a few: the great new UI on the Site Administrator for Sharepoint; the Quest Books software for electronic publishing; the Open source work going on at the Linden UT labs; the really great platform work that has been done for the Foglight and Netvault XA software, and much, much more.

In addition to that, the Software Group CTO team is starting to fill out, Jay and Craig are hear from the Enterprise Solutions Group(ESG) team, and we’ve been joined by Graeme, a former colleague and fellow Distinguished Engineer from IBM and of course Don Ferguson is the CTO, and VP for our group. Jai Menon, former IBM Fellow and for short period of time, my manager at IBM, has also joined Dell ESG as CTO and so we are really getting things “better together”.

Blades a go-go in Austin

We’ve been working on some interesting technology prototypes of our common software architecture. It forms the core of the “Maverick” virtualization solution, the orchestrator for the Dell Virtual Integrated System(VIS).[More on this in a follow-on post].

We have a far reaching outlook for the common software architecture including embedded systems. One thing I’ve been looking at is creating a top-of-rack switch, with an embedded management server. We demonstrated it to Michael Dell and the Executive Leadership Team on Monday to show them where we are with software.

The same stack and applications for the next generation Blade Chasis Management Controller (CMC). For VIS, we are building a set of “adjacency” services so that it can scale to thousands of physical servers. So it was with some interest when I saw this piece in the Austin American Statesman, our “local” paper. It covers the new $9 million supercomputer at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas, to be installed next year.

The newest “Lonestar” system will be built and deployed by the Texas Advanced Computing Center; it’s expected to be operational by February 2011 and will will include 1,888 M610 PowerEdge Blade servers from Dell Inc., each with two six-core Intel X5600 Westmere processors.

Our VP of Global higher education, John Mullen, was quoted as saying “The system will be built on open-system architecture, which means it can be expanded as needed, that’s a cost-effective switch from proprietary systems of the past.”

Another coincidence for me, the entrance to the J.J. Pickles campus is right opposite the entrance to my old IBM office on Braker Lance, proving once again that old adage, as one do closes, another opens.


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group. I was formerly Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

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